“Man is born not for the sake of himself but for the sake of others; that is, he is born not to live for himself alone but for others.”True Christian Religion 406
It can be hard to see how your actions affect other people. I do something selfish but consider it relatively harmless because no one else will know what I do or do not do. But the point isn’t even getting away with something because no one will notice. Sometimes I really fail to see the point of bettering myself. How does running help the neighbor? If I sleep-in instead of going for a run the only person I’m hurting is me. And is it really hurting me? I could make an argument for it not.
Who do you change for? Well, spoilers, you’re supposed to do it because the Lord says to. You’re not supposed to change because other people want you to. Also, they might not want you to change for the better.
However having people who make you want to be a better person is good. I’ve had friends tell me that they love me the way I am, but I don’t want to be loved for who I am. I want to be loved for doing the right thing. But I’ll admit that it’s easier to do the right thing when I’m doing it for someone other than myself.
But when you’re single you can get by without changing things about yourself. I’m not saying it’s easier for married people to work on their regeneration, but sometimes it feels that way from the outside. When you are married you have someone you have to live with. You have to figure out how to make things work and so you are constantly adjusting and accommodating to someone else. When you are single you can accomodate to your roomates, but you don’t have to. You can move. You accomodate to your friends, but you don’t have to. You can get different friends. You don’t have a permanent neighbor in the same way as you do when you are married and raising kids. When you have kids, you have to put them first sometimes. Even when you don’t want to. When you are an Aunt you can put yourself first.
However, I have found that nieces and nephews are a very compelling reason to better myself. When I was younger and pictured being an Aunt it was to infants and toddlers. Really cute loveable little humans who just want to play and be held. But I now have nieces and nephews who are growing up and becoming real people and forming thoughts and opinions about things and I realize that I am an Aunt to these growing people, not just the little ones. And recently that has really struck me in a new way. I don’t have to be a good person. I don’t have to be a good role model or be someone they can trust, but I choose to be.
Of course I want to be a good influence on my peers, but my nieces and nephews inspire me in a different way. They are growing and forming and figuring things out. I want to be someone they can look up to, someone they can talk to and trust. Someone they aspire to be! And right now I don’t think they should be aspiring to be like me, because I’m not perfect. If they imitate me I want it to be something good they see. I know that I am not the biggest influence on their life, but that doesn’t matter. I am an influence and I want to influence them for the better.
The Lord tells us that we are not born for ourselves but for others. And I want to do my best to live for others and be a good influence on them, and having nieces and nephews to live for is a wonderful gift from the Lord!
3 thoughts on “For the Sake of Others”
I love this! I think that is a really real use. In some ways I think single aunts and uncles have an even greater potential to be influential on their nieces and nephews because they’re not distracted by their own offspring and so really invest the time. I know I’ve felt that to be true in my life!
And I guess your larger message is that even when it’s not as obvious as a spouse or our own kids, we can always find a neighbor worth changing for, and it’s our job to do that. Thanks for sharing!
I’ve found something similar with doing all the little (sometimes annoying) useful jobs that come up in a day — if they have some sort of impact on someone else, it makes it easier to get motivated enough to do them. It’s a really good system, just like you point out 🙂
That’s a really nice thought Allison. Your nieces and nephews are fortunate to have such a caring Aunt.
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